Did you know that a few small houseplants could greatly improve the health of your home – at least according to NASA.

In an effort to find ways to keep areas in space clean and healthy for astronauts, NASA studied houseplants. And what they found could help you conquer your home’s indoor air pollution problem.

Your home has a real air quality problem

As we’ve discussed before, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says your home is likely 2-5 times more polluted than outdoor air. (And you’ve seen the air outside, right?)

And the poor indoor air quality has a real effect on your health. A study published in the American Society for Horticultural Science says,

“The United Nations Development Program estimated (1998) that more than two million people die each year due to the presence of toxic indoor air, while other studies estimate that 14 times as many deaths occur globally from poor indoor air quality compared with outdoor air pollution.”

So what’s the solution? According to the NASA study, one of the solutions might be house plants.

Plants – the all-natural air cleaners

If you remember your fifth-grade biology, you already know that all plants turn carbon dioxide (CO2) into oxygen. But, it turns out many plants also neutralize even more harmful chemicals.

Studies have shown that many common houseplants remove unhealthy volatile organic compounds (VOCs) commonly found in homes, including:


  • Health effects: Benzene is a known human carcinogen (it causes cancer) and may also cause reproductive harm.
  • Sources: It most commonly enters the home through cigarette smoke, vehicle emissions (from an attached garage), stored fuels and paint supplies. It is also found in plastics and other household items.


  • Health effects: Formaldehyde is known to cause cancer in animals and is a suspected human carcinogen. If inhaled in higher concentrations it can trigger asthma attacks and other respiratory problems.
  • Sources: The most common source of Formaldehyde in your home is pressed-wood products (like cabinets) and unvented gas appliances. It is also found in cigarette smoke, paints and other household products.


  • Health effects: Trichloroethylene can damage the central nervous system and cause nausea, headaches, dizziness, etc.
  • Sources: It finds it’s way into your home through glues, adhesives, paint removers, cleaning fluids, and paints.

Selecting the right plant

Now, not all plants remove these chemicals, and some do a better job than others. And some require more light than others. To find the plant best for your home, check out this article on the top 10 houseplants that clean the air.

According to NASA, one plant per 100 square feet is probably a good ratio.

More air-cleaning options

As great as these plants are, they can’t actually remove particulates from the air. That’s why we often recommend pairing them with a whole-home air cleaner for best results. If you want to learn more about how these remove chemicals, mold, and bacteria from your air, contact us today.

Ragsdale provides air conditioning, heating and plumbing service to Atlanta and the surrounding areas.

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